Tag Archives: Titans

Beating Vegas: Beginning of the End

It’s that time of the year where the college football season ends and the NFL season is coming close to it’s own end.  For some who’s teams had a horrible season, or for those who chose to ignore the advice from “Beating Vegas” you’re glad the season has come to and end.  For those on the other side of the spectrum though . . .

Buffalo Bills +9 at Jacksonville Jaguars; Points Total: 39

I found myself cheering for the Buffalo Bills to get into the playoffs last weekend.  I remember when I was a kid, how amazing those teams were with Bruce Smith, Thurman Thomas and Jim Kelly – albeit they never won a Super Bowl together. . .and the last time the Bill were in the playoffs – Doug Flutie was their starting quarterback (easy to see why they came up empty with a Super Bowl championship in that effort).   Now the Bills, after a quarterback controversy and fans of the NFL not knowing what to quite make of them – are in the NFL playoffs.  They find themselves up against a team that is foreign to the playoffs as well – the Jacksonville Jaguars.  It’s been a 10 year drought for the Jaguars and this year they have the NFL’s number one ranked defense.  If it’s true that defense wins championships, the Jaguars should have it made – but we all know it’s never that easy.  The Jaguars have been steadily forcing a rushing attack on offense, led by rookie running back  Leonard Fournette.  Fournette has seen most defenses stack the box against him this year, so his rushing average of 3.9 yards a carry and his total rushing yards of 1040 may not blow people away, but if he’s anything – he’s reliable.  The pressure is all on Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles.  His 21 touchdown passes are easily forgotten by the fact he’s had 13 interceptions and 3 lost fumbles on the year.  Bortles just never has amounted to the hype he had when he came out of college in 2014.  He should have some decent looks when going against a secondary that has allowed quarterbacks to complete 65% of their passes.  Buffalo as an offense though only has more total yardage than three other teams in the league (Bears, Colts and Bengals).  This is another team who’s offensive focus is the run, and their leading rusher LeSean McCoy averages just at 4 yards a carry – and is a game time decision as of now (January 2nd).  The Bills do not have the receiving talent to challenge the best secondary in the league, so this one should be a tough go for Tyrod Taylor and the Bills.  Expect the Jags to win this game, but don’t expect a lot of fireworks.

The Pick: The Under at 39

Tennessee Titans +9 at Kansas City Chiefs; Points Total: 45

It happens every year.  One team does it, every year.  One team slips into the playoffs and nobody has a clue as to “why.”  This year, that team is the Tennessee Titans.  The Kansas City Chiefs on the other hand started the season looking like the best team in football. . .and then they looked like a totally different squad who could miss the playoffs.  As fate would have it though, the Chiefs finished off the season with four wins in a row, and seem to resemble more of what we saw earlier in the season.  Kansas City’s pass defense should have a walk in the park, considering they hold the opposition to a 57% completion percentage (second best in the league) and are going up against Marcus Mariota who is one of the worst road-quarterbacks in the NFL.  Forget about “the road” though, Mariota has been flat out bad for the better part of the 2017 season. The Titans are relying on a rushing attack led by Derrick Henry, and his success will be determined by how much of a threat Mariota is – the problem is – he won’t be.  There is no reason to believe Mariota will revive any of his Oregon Duck majestics to come away with a win here.  The only thing about laying down this many points with the Chiefs is that Andy Reid forgets how to coach once he gets to the playoffs.  Kansas City is 6-2 at home and they are going up against a quarterback who has a rating of 69.1 on the road with five touchdowns and eleven interceptions.

The Pick:  The Under at 45 points and the Chiefs -9

The College Football National Championship:

Alabama Crimson Tide -4 versus Georgia Bulldogs; Points Total: 45

We had another successful year in college football here at Beating Vegas, and this game is being spoken of here, just because it must be.  This is in no way a “lock” but just a “lean” at the moment.  For all the talk of the Big 10 or ACC being the best division in College Football – the SEC seems to stand above all conferences again.   Offensively they both want to run it down the opposition’s throats and defensively, they are just suffocating offenses.  This time around it’s Nick Saban going up against Kirby Smart, a former Saban assistant.  Both know each other well and one can expect this one to be an old school grudge match.  The issue here in this grudge match is that, although both programs perform and are run similarly – Bama is just a little better as a run defense and a little less prone to turning over the ball.  It’s those slight differences that can prove to do Georgia’s undoing.   The world may be in love with Georgia freshman quarterback Jake Fromm but typically the non-mobile quarterbacks with average arm strength don’t fare well against Saban’s defensive schemes.  Expect Saban to stack the box and challenge Fromm, who will have to see his wideouts matched up against some of the toughest secondary players in the nation.  Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts isn’t the most prolific passer in the nation, but he knows all he has to do is NOT turn the ball over as his 15 touchdowns and 1 interception on the season prove.  Hurts is part of a three headed monster that runs the ball, along with running backs Bo Scarborough and Damien Harris.  This Bama defense holds opponents to less than three yards a carry but Georgia’s running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel average 6.2 and 7.2 yards per carry, respectively.  Much like the Jaguars / Bills game we mentioned earlier, expect this one to be a smash mouth low scoring game but in the end, the student does NOT surpass the teacher.

The Pick: Alabama -4

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

 

Beating Vegas: Vikings of the North

Minnesota Vikings -8.5 at Green Bay Packers

The Minnesota Vikings are positioning themselves for a deep and serious playoff run, while the division rival Packers , have pretty much packed it in for the season.  After last week’s jolt from reality that Aaron Rodgers returning from injury was not going to propel the Packers into a magical playoff run, they have now shut down Aaron Rodgers for the rest of the season.  The Vikings are the most balanced team in the NFL on offense and defense it seems that both units are cohesive and working in harmony.  Quarterback Case Keenum has been quite the story for the Vikings though.  If people aren’t talking about him being mentioned in the MVP race, they are talking about how he could be the next “big contract quarterback” – because that’s just the climate of today’s game when speaking of starting QB’s.  A lot of his success is due to the underrated receiving duo of Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs who are averaging 14.3 and 13.7 yards per reception respectively.   That doesn’t bode well for a Green Bay secondary that is already allowing 11.4 yards per reception which puts them in the bottom half of the league.    Green Bay back up quarterback Brett Hundley will be facing one of the NFL’s best defensive units while not having the services of Davonte Adams the team’s reception leader.  With the Packers fans and players all knowing this season is a wrap, it’s going to be hard for them to get up for this game on the holiday weekend.

The Pick: Vikings -8.5

Los Angeles Rams -6.5 at Tennessee Titans

The Los Angeles Rams are tied for most points per game in the NFL with 31.3.  They bring that ridiculous average over to Tennessee against a Titans defense holding opponents to 22 points per game.  That’s not too shabby, but when you’re only averaging 21 points a game – things shouldn’t line up in your favor.  For reasons that go far beyond anyone’s comprehension though, the Titans have an 8-6 record and are in the playoff hunt.  The good news for the Titans is that they are playing at home this week.  That’s generally good news for anybody, but more so in the case of the Titan’s who’s starting quarterback Marcus Mariota, is pound-for-pound the worst road QB in football today.  The bad news for the Titans is that. . .Mariota hasn’t been that great across the board.  The former Heisman winner has 12 touchdowns against his 14 interceptions and has been sacked 23 times so far this year.  This Ram’s defense has been impressive against the pass this year holding the opposition to a completion percentage of 58% but against the run, they have shown at times to get worn down.  This is the type of game where Tennessee will have to rely on running back Derrick Henry to move the chains.  This Tennessee defense is pretty good, but this offense isn’t the type to be bottled up for four quarters – especially when considering the Titans offensive attack will be pretty predictable in the early going.

The Pick: Rams -6.5

Indianapolis Colts +14 at Baltimore Ravens (over/under 42)

Whenever the Colts are on television – I pass.  Whenever the Ravens are on television – I pass.  When the Colts play the Ravens, let’s be clear – nobody wins.  According to ESPN’s Total QBR Rankings, the Raven’s Joe Flacco stands at 26 with a QBR of 40.9; and the Colts’ Jacoby Brissett is 29th with a QBR of 38.9.   To make things a little more interesting – Joe Flacco is dead last in the NFL when it comes to yards-per-pass (5.8) and Jacoby Brissett is 30th in league completion percentage with 59.6.  Both teams rely on the running attack, where Baltimore’s Alex Collins is having a great year and averaging 4.9 yards a carry and Indy’s Frank Gore is averaging a sad 3.6.  Much like the previously mentioned Titans, one look at the Ravens’ record will make you scratch your head as they too have an 8-6 record.  This will be one of the worse games of the week – nay – the year.

The Pick: The Under at 42

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: So What If I’m Petty?

New York Jets +15.5 at New Orleans Saints

Yes, you read it right the Saints are a fifteen point favorite in a professional football game.  This is not a college spread, this is an actual professional match up.  It won’t look like one though, as the Jets are now forced to go with back up quarterback Bryce Petty, in place of the injured Josh McCown.  McCown was having a career year and was the main reason this Jets team has been able to compete week to week when many doubted they could.  What the Jets lose with McCown goes beyond the stat-line though.  He was building a rapport with the wide receiver talent around him (even making Robbie Anderson emerge as a true number one), made up for a lack of a running attack and was the calm, confident leader this team needed.  Bryce Petty’s short career numbers are: three touchdowns, seven interceptions and a completion percentage of 54%.  The Saints pass defense is mediocre, allowing 60% completion percentage but can get to the quarterback (34 sacks) and against this offensive line, they’ll be bringing the heat.  The last time we saw the Saints, they lost in embarrassing fashion to the Falcons on National Television, now they get a mentally defeated Jets team without their leader and on their home turf.  Considering the Jets defense put absolutely zero pressure on the frantic and easily frazzled Trevor Siemian last week, I’m sure the veteran Drew Brees will be someone’s MVP in fantasy football this weekend.

The Pick: Saints -15.5

Tennessee Titans +2 at San Francisco 49ers

With all things considered, and when all the numbers and analytics are figured out – Marcus Mariota is the 34th best road-quarterback in the NFL.  Remember, there are only 32 teams so that means – well you get it. . . Mariota has 10 touchdowns and 14 interceptions on the year and although this team is 8-5, word on the street is – they play like they’re 5-8.  This is a team that is in La-La-Land because they are three games over .500 and just don’t want to rock the boat.  Their only source of offense that teams should concern themselves with is running back Derrick Henry who is averaging five yards a carry and has really emerged as the go to guy in the backfield with Demarco Murray. The San Francisco 49ers rush defense is hard to figure out because they’ve allowed over 1500 rushing yards but they have an impressive 3.9 rush on average by the opposition.  Offensively, this offense have been pretty adequate all season long.  They are on a two game winning streak since putting in Jimmy Garoppolo at starting quarterback.  In his two games he’s posted a completion percentage of 67% and is grasping the offense more and more with each snap.  Garoppolo racked up wins against the Bears and the Texans, but the road gets tougher at home this week against the Titans, followed by the Jags and the Rams.  The 49ers fan base and organization as a whole have something to root for in a losing season as they all see the future in Garoppolo.

The Pick: San Fran -2

San Diego Chargers -1 at Kansas City Chiefs

Do people realize that the San Diego Chargers are on a four game winning streak?  Have people realized that if not for some bad kicking in their first two weeks, this is a team that could easily be 9-4 instead of 7-6 ?  The Chargers are right now looking to take control of their destiny as the final three games of their season are against a Kansas City Chiefs team that seems to have lost their identity, a  below average Jets team and a Raiders team that is just lost.   Chargers running back Melvin Gordon is well on his way to a 1000 yard season, and back up running back Austin Ekeler has been adding in a punch late this season with 5.5 yards a carry.  This backfield has helped give balance to this offense which is lead by quarterback Philip Rivers and his 3600 yards passing.  The last time these two teams played the Chiefs won 24-10, but this is back in week three when the Chiefs looked like the best team in the AFC, Alex Smith looked like the MVP and Kareem Hunt looked like the Rookie of the Year.  Times have changed and since they started out 5-0, they have limped since October 15th with two wins and six losses. The Chiefs control their destiny as well in this division, but you have to ride the hot hand in this situation.  Chargers are hitting their stride and the Chiefs are grasping at straws.

The Pick: Chargers -1

Good Luck and Wager Wisely

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: Lucky Week 7

Tennessee Titans -6 at Cleveland Browns

It seems as if, for one reason or another, the Titans and Browns are a “mainstay” at Beating Vegas this year.  This week, these two teams square off against each other, with the Titans coming off a Monday Night victory against the Colts and the Browns losing. . .again.  After Kevin Hogan’s inefficient outing against the Houston Texans, the Browns have decided to go back to starting rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer.  Teams that flip-flop on quarterbacks like this, especially when both quarterbacks are below average – are usually teams that have issues.  The Browns have had issues since they’ve come back into the league.  In the five games he’s played, Kizer has three touchdowns, nine interceptions and is averaging less than five and half yards a carry.  He’s a quarterback who only finds success when throwing to the left side of the hash-marks and one must wonder what his confidence is like at this point.  The good news for Cleveland is that Tennessee’s defense has been disappointing this year.  The Dick LeBeau coached unit is allowing 27 points per game and allowing opponents to complete passes at a 60% rate.  The thing to watch here is the health of Marcus Mariota.  He was stiff but was able to complete passes from the pocket for over 300 yards against the Colts.  Mariota’s more effective as a mobile threat and he should be a little more inclined to take off this week.  The Browns are holding opponents to 3 yards a carry and this will be the defenses toughest test when they go up against Demarco Murray (4.6 yards a rush) and Derrick Henry (5.1 yards a rush).  Add to the mix a more mobile Mariota and this will be too much for Cleveland to sustain passed a half.

The Pick: Titans -6

Washington Redskins +5 at Philadelphia Eagles

Philly’s second-year quarterback Carson Wentz is already putting himself in some NFL pundits’ early MVP conversations. He’s looking like a seasoned pro this year and his supporting cast have all helped to carry some of the load.  The name that may surprise many this year is running back LaGarrette Blount.  Why is he a surprise?  Because a week before the season there was talk about him possibly getting cut.  Blount is averaging 5.6 yards a carry this year, which puts him right in the class of Kareem Hunt, who is averaging 5.9 yards a carry this season. This will be an interesting match-up for Blount because Washington is currently only allowing 88 yards a game on the ground.  For all the talk of Carson Wentz this year though, Kirk Cousins is putting together another nice season for the Redskins. Cousins is averaging 8.5 yards per pass this season with 9 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions. The emergence of running back Chris Thompson has been something to see this year as well.  Thompson has apparently come out of nowhere and is leading the team in yards per carry (4.9), receptions (18) and receiving yards (340). The Redskins are averaging 23.4 points a game so far this season, which is a pretty average total, but considering they are getting little to no contributions from Jordan Reed, Jamison Crowder and Josh Doctson – it’s a miracle they’ve done this well.  Keep an eye on this game as the public will tend to go heavy on the Eagles, at home on Monday night, so the Skins may end up getting more points before kick-off.  The Redskins lost by thirteen points at home when they opened up the season against Philadelphia and they’ll be looking for revenge on the national stage.

The Pick: Redskins +5

New York Jets +3.5 at Miami Dolphins

The New York Jets have a lot of gamblers sweating considering they were only expected to win 4-5 games this season and they are already at three.  Be careful with those pre-season prop bets. . . Anyhow, the Jets haven’t looked too bad.  Their running game is confusing because although everyone sees that Bilal Powell should be the guy the Jets keep on trying to force Matt Forte onto our television sets.  That’s a good reason why they are ranked 28th in the NFL in rushing offense.  Its been veteran quarterback Josh McCown who’s been leading the charge.  He’s got viable targets in Jermaine Kearse, Robbie Anderson and Jeremy Kerley – you would think they’d throw the ball more but they hover around mediocrity averaging 234 passing yards a game.   The Jets should look to take advantage of a Miami secondary allowing a completion percentage of 72.4%.  The Jets though have been struggling to stop the run and if last week’s explosion by running back Jay Ajayi was the coming out party most of the league has been waiting on from him, he could stand to put up another monster performance.  Also, last week – it seems Adam Gase stopped being conservative and let Jay Cutler just throw the ball around – it opened up the entire offense and they’ll want to do that again this week because they’ll have their shots to take.  Division rivals usually are at a 3.5 point spread because of the familiarity, and it’s a good line here – for Vegas.  The real play here is the over/under of 38 points.  The over is the play here because both teams’ strength on offense is the other teams’ weakness.  Could spell a recipe for disaster for one side.  Which side?  Who cares?  Just put those points up!

The Pick: The Over at 38 points

 

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: Tennessee Turn Up?

Last week Beating Vegas went 50/50 on College and NFL picks. That’s just not going to cut it here, so let’s knock out these NFL picks!

Seattle Seahawks +3 at Tennessee Titans

In two weeks, the Seattle Seahawks have put up a whopping 21 points.  The offensive line isn’t what it used to be and quiet as kept. . .neither is Russell Wilson.  Wilson’s completion percentage is 56% and he’s averaging 5.4 yards a pass.  Those are pretty below average numbers for a guy who’s held in such high regard today.  It’s not all his fault though, the pass protection isn’t great and his receivers – if we’re being honest – they’re a pretty overrated group (sorry Doug Baldwin fans. . . all four of you).  Tennessee is a team, on the other hand that NEEDS to piece this thing together.  Quarterback, Marcus Mariota is putting up better numbers than Wilson – but  not by much, but unlike Seattle, he has weapons.  Running back Derrick Henry just may have taken over the reigns last week when Demarco Murray went down with a hamstring injury (day-to-day) and the young receiving core has talent with Corey Davis, Taywan Taylor and Rishard Matthews.  They’re just a young team that is finding ways to put it all together – at least one would hope.  The Titans need a signature win and this is their opportunity, to hit a heavy weight while it’s tending to it’s wounds.

The Pick: The Titans -3

Houston Texans +13.5 at New England Patriots

While Texans coach Bill O’Brien is muddling through the early goings of this 2017 season (blowout loss to the Jaguars and barely beating the Bengals) he has to take his team, led by rookie quarterback Deshawn Watson to go against his former boss, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots.  O’Brien was awarded stripes while being the offensive coordinator at New England, than won people over by accepting the job at Penn State during it’s darkest times and eventually becoming head coach of the Texans.  It’s been rough though, as this once heralded “quarterback guru” has been shuffling through mediocrity under center since he arrived.  Now a rookie quarterback enters New England, where under Belichick rookie quarterbacks have gone 0-8.  Add to the fact that Watson is averaging less than 5 yards a pass and his second leading target is his under achieving running back Lamar Miller – things can get crazy.  This Texans defense is “supposed” to be one of the better ones in the league, but in two games they’ve netted three sacks and zero interceptions. New England on the other hand shook off their week one cobwebs and got their swagger back against New Orleans last week 36-20 (game wasn’t even that close – Brees through a garbage time TD with about 5 minutes left).  Houston is going to struggle to score and there will be more than a few three and outs. This will benefit the New England offense who by the second half will wear down this defense.

The Pick: Patriots -13.5

Miami Dolphins -6 at New York Jets

It’s easy to pick against the Jets because. . .it’s the Jets.  When a team is noticeably tanking, you take that into consideration, but this is a rivalry game and coach Todd Bowles is coaching for his life right now.  On the other hand, the Miami Dolphins are only looking up, as they bring to New York one of the more complete rosters in the NFL.   Miami went to L.A. and squeezed out a win against a gritty Chargers team that has a knack for blowing close games and now come back to the east coast to play their rivals in New York.  Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler looked like he didn’t forget a step in the Adam Gase offense and looked calm and in control throughout the game.  Cutler throwing over 70% completion rate, which is pretty much what the Jets allow at about 11.4 yards a pass.  Josh McCown is doing what he can on offense but with no real running game to help him out and only one real target in Jermaine Kearse, the frustration settles in quick.

The Pick: Miami -6

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: Army-Navy

Last week “Beating Vegas” went two out of three – still above 60% for the year.  This week, with only one college game, the classic “Army-Navy Game,” we’re going to have to try our hand with some NFL action as well.  The system has been working all year at “Beating Vegas” – keep winning with us!

 

Army +6.5 vs  Navy (game played in Baltimore)

At 60-49-7, Navy is the all time leader in this rivalry, which has them owning the Black Knights since 2002. Yikes.  Last season, Beating Vegas won this game by telling folks to take the under and this year the over/under is  set at 47.  In the last four years, the highest the point total has gone up to is 41 (we should note, that the two years prior total was at 48).   The reason for this is that these two programs run similar offenses and the playbook for these teams haven’t changed for, maybe, decades.  There is also “honor” in this rivalry, so “running up the score” won’t occur much either.  The rushing statistics for both of these squads are impressive and nearly identical, except in touchdowns where Navy has scored 54 on the ground, compared to Army’s 37.  Statistically, it would appear that Army’s defense is superior to Navy’s but let’s chill out for a second – Navy has a REAL college football schedule.  Navy is in an AAC Conference that was quite impressive this year.  The Midshipmen had  impressive back to back wins against two bowl eligible teams in Houston and Memphis.  Navy has had to rely on their offense to pull them through some tough competition, while Army beat up on Morgan State and Lafayette.  They both lost in similar fashion to Air Force, Army beat Temple, Temple beat Navy, Navy beat Notre Dame and Notre Dame beat Army — what does this tell you?  Nothing.  There are no stats to help gauge where to go with this one.  Smart money has Navy still winning this game and keeping the streak alive.  On a side note, both teams will be sporting some really sick jerseys for the game.  Seriously.

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The Pick: the under at 47

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Denver Broncos +1 at Tennessee Titans

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What is this?  An NFL game?  How’d this happen?  This one has Marcus Mariota squaring off against one of the best defenses in the NFL, in the Denver Broncos.  If you’re expecting excitement – don’t.  Although, Marcus Mariota is having an impressive season so far, IF the Titans win this game, it will have very little to do with the former Oregon Duck.  The only way to beat tough defenses like this is to run the ball.  The Titans have the means to do it behind this offensive line and Demarco Murray. Murray has cracked the one-thousand yard rushing mark this year and is doing it at a rate of 4.6 yards per carry.  His back up Derrick Henry, hasn’t been used as much as many thought he’d be used this year, but when he comes in the yards per carry only drop by a tenth. . . For all the talk of Denver’s defense, they are giving up 4.2 yards a rush, pretty average by NFL standards; but they’ve allowed the fewest passing yards this year and they hold teams to a 55.3% completion rate which is best in the league.  Considering that the Titans don’t have the most elite wide outs in the world, as mentioned earlier, Mariota will have his struggles.   The Broncos offense has talent but is a struggle due to their quarterback position, regardless if it’s Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch.

The Pick: the under at 43.5

Atlanta Falcons -6 at L.A. Rams

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The Falcons had a taste of one of the NFL’s best teams last week (yes, the Chiefs ARE legit) and it was two Matt Ryan interceptions that ultimately costed them the game.   Even with that, Ryan has the best QB Rating in the league (among those who played more than 8 games. . .) and is having an MVP caliber season so far.  The Los Angeles Rams. . . are pretty much awful.  They have the NFL’s worst offense and have a rookie starting at quarterback who looks like one of the worse rookies we’ve seen start at quarterback.  Jared Goff may get lucky this week though as he’s squaring off against the worst pass defense in the league.  Teams have figured out the Rams though.  Stack the box, force their rookie quarterback to make throws to his average receivers.  Atlanta has a lot to prove and this is a soft landing spot after a tough loss.  Take this spread now before it finds it’s way to -9 before kickoff.

The Pick: The Falcons -6

Seattle Seahawks -2.5 at Green Bay Packers

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Admittedly, these are two teams and two quarterbacks I personally do-not-like – BUT – for the sake of making some coin, let’s take a look here.  Both team’s have no offense line and both defenses like to blitz.  Both quarterbacks like to throw on the run, and both offenses are plugging different guys at the running back position.  Seattle won’t get the calls they usually get in Green Bay, Green Bay gets calls everywhere they go – and surprisingly enough the defenses aren’t that much different except in one category – passing touchdowns.  The Seahawks have only allowed 11, where the Packers have allowed 24.  Things may change drastically for Seattle’s “Legion of Boom” now that All-World-Safety Earl Thomas is out for the season though. . . This is a tricky game, and Beating Vegas usually doesn’t like “tricky” but what we do love this week are overs/unders.  Aaron Rodgers will without a doubt test the middle of this secondary without the presence of Earl Thomas and Russell Wilson, who always finds pay-dirt (someway. . .somehow) will find holes against a secondary, who’s back end won’t keep up with the speedy wide-outs the Seahawks package out there.  Enjoy the fireworks.

The Pick: the over at 46.5

Four Game Teaser of the Week: Titans/Broncos under 55.5; Seahawks +9.5; Falcons +6 and Bucs/Saints over 39

 

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: Vegas Is Getting Smarter

Beating Vegas has been ON FIRE with it’s college football picks!  So far this year we are 11 for 13 so let’s see if we can keep that luck going.  Safe to say everyone took a hit with the NFL last week as two big time favorites this year in Pittsburgh and Arizona looked flat out awful.  New week, new story – so keep checking for this column weekly and visit mybookie.ag so you can beat the NCAA and NFL odds. . .

Tennessee Titans +6.5 at Houston Texans

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At this point, some teams and players start shaping up into what they will be for the rest of the year.  For the Titans, this looks like a squad that is confused on the field and has a quarterback who is suffering from the sophomore jinx.  Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota appears to be thinking too much.  Usually thinking is a good thing, but he hasn’t been “reacting” to situations quick enough in the pocket – he’s somewhere between ‘trying to make the big play’ and ‘trying not to turn over the ball’ – and failing at both.  The Texans were just shut out on National television by a third string, rookie quarterback and are now playing in the comfort of their own home against a division rival they know well.  The Texans have beaten the Titans in eight of their last ten meetings, and they’ve done so by nearly twenty points per win.   This Titans team is far from making the jump to being competitive and they’ve got a quarterback who seems to be trying to drive this offense  from the back seat.  Take the better coach and better depth (even without J.J. Watt).

The Pick: Texans -6.5

Seattle Seahawks +2.5 at New York Jets

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The big story here is that Russell Wilson suffered a sprain ACL in his left knee last week against the San Francisco 49ers.  The Seahawks are expecting Wilson to play, even if not at 100% which will work right into the Jets’ hands.  Wilson hasn’t been “killing it” this year anyhow.  In three games he has two touchdown passes, an interception and a lost fumble.  The Seahawks offense doesn’t know what it wants to be: “Smash-mouth”
, Aerial – or balanced.  Regardless of what they think they are – they’ve looked really sloppy so far this year.  Speaking of “sloppy” . . . The New York Jets were downright pitiful last week against the Kansas City Chiefs, losing 24-3.  Well at least their offense looked pitiful. . .Eh, Ryan Fitzpatrick looked pitiful.  Fitzy threw six interceptions and appeared to be confused with which jersey color he should’ve been throwing to the whole game.  The Jets will keep this game simple against a Seahawks defense that will feast on those floater passes Fitzy likes to throw.  This game will be ugly, but it will be in New York, meaning Seattle has to make that coast to coast travel that all teams dread.  The Jets will be looking to rebound against a wounded Russell Wilson.  The public will be riding the Seahawks on pure reputation against the Jets – the public is usually wrong.

The Pick: The Jets +2.5

Illinois +21 at Nebraska

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Talk about two universities going in completely different directions. . . yikes.  Illinois is the bad side of the coin as it looks like head coach Lovie Smith may have taken on more than he can handle with this roster and it’s lack of talent.  On the heavier side of the coin is Nebraska, who is so far, undefeated and both sides of the ball seem to be in sync with each other.  Illinois has gotten shelved by UNC and Western Michigan and although quarterback Wes Lunt isn’t a bad player, it’s the lack of talent around him.  The offensive line isn’t impressive and outside of wide receiver Marcus Turner, they lack little to know play making ability.  Nebraska is led by quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. who has been a duel-threat nightmare for defenses so far this year averaging over 300 yards and three touchdowns a game.  The offense has two capable running backs and Nebraska is a team that can go four wide at the wide receiver position and depend on all of them.  The trend in Vegas is that Nebraska is 4-1 ATS in it’s last five games, while Illinois is 1-5 ATS in it’s last six games.  Expect that trend to continue, even with this big number – Illinois just can’t match up with Nebraska on the field.

The Pick: Nebraska -21

Western Michigan -3.5 at Central Michigan

You got to love the Mac Conference.  We won with Western Michigan earlier this year in an easy cover against Illinois (yes, the team that we’re going against this week as well) and this week they’re going against Central Michigan.  Both squads average about 41 points a game between them and defensively they allow on average about 23 points a game between them.  Last year the winner of this game was Western Michigan 41-39.  The over/under for this game is set at 55 and this is the kind of game where these two will be lighting each other up until late in the fourth quarter.

The Pick: The Over 55

If You Must: Take Wisconsin +10.5 against Michigan.  Don’t like riding a team two weeks in a row, but they were the underdogs last week and flat out won, this week, Wisconsin is the first true test for Michigan who has been playing cup cakes so far this season.  Michigan is playing a team now that will “punch back” and they haven’t faced that at all this year.  Michigan will most likely still come away with a win, but Wisconsin will hang around.  This might be a preview of the Big Ten Title game and both teams know it.

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4 Game Tease of the Week: Dolphins +19, Browns +19.5, Raiders +15.5 and Stanford/Washington Under 57

 

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: The Juke Move

About last week:  The Raiders were the one team that made us look bad here at Beating Vegas.  Some teams are just hard to read  and the Raiders look like they are one of them – at least for the moment.  We’re doing good things here at Beating Vegas, so keep checking for this column weekly and visit mybookie.ag so you can beat the NCAA and NFL odds. . .

Baltimore Ravens -1 at  Jacksonville Jaguars

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The San Diego Chargers made the Jaguars look like the Jaguars we’re more familiar with.  The Jags looked over-matched and over-whelmed for most of the contest.  It was over quickly and this Jaguars team that has wildcard hopes, looked awful.  The truth is, the Chargers have games like these during the year, where they look like world beaters, but then are sent back down to reality.  The Jags are not a franchise that knows how to handle expectations, but this familiar taste of being blown out will not sit well with this unit.  They are back home and playing the role of host to an underwhelming Ravens team that is 2-0.  The Ravens barely beat Buffalo and barely beat Cleveland.  Cleveland was actually up by twenty points until a questionable taunting call turned the tides of the game. . . Those are two below average teams and one can argue that their kicker Justin Tucker is probably their best weapon on offense.  The Jaguars are a legit wildcard team this year and smart folks love a home underdog after a road blow-out loss.

The Pick: Jaguars +1

Oakland Raiders +1 at Tennessee Titans

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Ironically, these two teams were “locks” in last week’s “Beating Vegas” article.  The Titans covered fairly easily in their victory over Detroit, but as mentioned in the opening – the Raiders are just undependable at this point.  So why are the Raiders still featured here, if they are “undependable?”  Because, the Raiders defense looks awful.  The Saints and Falcons were able to ride up and down the field at ease against this re-vamped Raiders defense – and although we’re not knocking the abilities of those two offenses, it’s the fact that the defense looks lost.  There is an obvious lack of communication with some of the new pieces and this is something that won’t change overnight.  Marcus Mariota showed in the second half last week what this offense can look like.  His ability to escape pressure is key, because the Raiders will most likely blitz early – Detroit did that late last week and Mariota took what defenses were giving him.  The backfield of Murray and Henry hasn’t blown up yet, but they’ve been consistent.  The emergence of Tajae Sharpe at wide receiver has been a nice surprise too.  The Raiders should win this game, but we’re not worried about that for the most part.  Points will be scored, that’s for certain.

The Pick: The Over 46.5

 

Wisconsin +5.5 at Michigan State

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Classic trap game.  Michigan State less than a touchdown favorite after a huge nationally televised game against the most recognizable name in college football Notre Dame.   Last week Wisconsin struggled against Georgia State but came through with an ugly 23-17 victory.  THAT’S the game that is fresh in everyone’s head, but let’s not forget how Michigan State struggled against Furman to open the season with a sloppy 28-13 victory.   Michigan State has been protecting their quarterback Tyler O’Conner for the most part and they don’t have him throw too much during games so it’s nice to see  him throw at a completion percentage of 73% but it doesn’t tell the whole story. . . Wisconsin’s offense is basic as well, but they are going to keep true to what they do.  They have three talented running backs running behind an above average offensive line.  The Wisconsin defense allows about seven less points a game than Michigan State does and with Michigan giving five and a half points in this game, it just seems like this one will be a blue collar game played at the line of scrimmage.

The Pick: Wisconsin +5.5

 

Air Force -3 at Utah State

The Air Force offense is picking up this year where it left off last year – one dimensional and nearly unstoppable.  They are on top of the college football world averaging 432 rushing yards a game.  Couple that with the fact that their defense allows only 17.5 points a game (best in the Mountain West) this is a team that should own most of their competition this year.  Utah State has a more balanced offensive attack and defensively aren’t terrible, but in their one true test this season against USC (if that’s even a “test” at this point anymore in college football) when they gave up an average of 4.8 yards a carry to USC’s best backs Aca’Cedric Ware and Justin Davis.   Sure Air Force hasn’t played much competition, but 400 plus yards a game against anyone is impressive – AND this is just what we’ve come to expect from the road favorite.

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The Pick: Air Force -3

 

Houston -34.5 at Texas State

It may seem a bit foolish and even naive to pick Houston two weeks in a row, but THIS Houston defense against THIS Texas State offense – it’s kind of hard to ignore this.  Texas State allows five yards a rush and their defensive front just doesn’t have the talent to stay with Houston’s offensive line.  Houston’s defense is allowing only 13 points a game and don’t think they don’t see what Louisville is doing this year.  If Louisville doesn’t slip up next week against Clemson, then the November meeting between Houston and Clemson might decide a playoff birth.   Houston needs to make short work of teams like Texas State to prove a point.  The first half might be a smart wager here as well, but just like last week, don’t think too much about it.  Houston should win this win 49-13.   Yeah, of course you’ll have to sweat it out, that’s just the way it is.

The Pick: Houston -34.5

Four Game Tease of the Week: Dolphins +2.5; Western Kentucky +4.5; Michigan -7; Pitt +19

 

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

 

Beating Vegas: Let’s Not Over-React

About Last Week:  Oh Seattle. . . Russell Wilson seemed out of sorts last week and that Cincinnati / Purdue game made us sweat it out, but we got that “under.”  When it came to Louisville clearing sixteen at Syracuse – it really doesn’t get much easier than that. . . Seriously, keep checking this column and mybookie.ag every week so you can beat the NCAA and NFL Lines. . .

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Tennessee Titans +6.5 at Detroit Lions

After being up 21-3 and  then having to edge out a win 39-35 against the Colts, the Lions should be counting their blessings.  The Colts don’t have much depth, neither do the Lions, so on paper it should have been a close game anyway.  Vegas has the Lions as a one touchdown favorite against a team that should be making strides this season.  Minnesota’s offense didn’t do much against Tennessee’s defense (the Titans even held the unstoppable Adrian Peterson to an abysmal 1.9 yards a carry) as the offense had to settle for four Blair Walsh field goals.  Marcus Mariota’s costly two interceptions turned into defensive touchdowns which made the difference in the game.  This time around, Mariota plays against an easier defensive opponent and a team, in the Lions who never knows how to put anybody away.  Expect the Titans to mix in Derrick Henry a little more with Demarco Murray early to see if they can have the same amount of success that Frank Gore had last week (4.2 yards a carry) against Detroit.  They may want to ease Mariota into the game and keep an overly anxious Matt Stafford on the sidelines.

The Pick: Tennessee Titans +6.5

 

Atlanta Falcons +4.5 at Oakland Raiders

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The Oakland Raiders gave us a gutsy and exciting game last week against the New Orleans Saints, but all was not to be celebrated.  The Raiders came into this season ranting and raving about a defense that was ready to take on the world, but Drew Brees and the Saints threw the ball all over the field on them, leaving it up to Derek Carr and the Raiders offense to carry the load.  The good news is, Carr looks totally in-sync with Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree – the chemistry from last year, just seems to have gotten better.  The Falcons have a top flight wide-out in Julio Jones there is no doubting that, and they even have two talented backs in Coleman and Freeman – but that offensive line is still an issue.  Matt Ryan has slid down to  be the fourth best quarterback in the NFC South (remember class there are only four teams in the division).   If the Oakland Raiders are truly back in the picture as a team that matters, beating an average at best team at home by a touchdown should be a requirement on their resume.

The Pick: The Raiders -4.5

 

Houston Cougars -9 at Cincinnati Bearcats

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To be honest, there was some wavering on this one.  And the golden rule should be – if you’re not sure, stay away – but it’s a Thursday night game and we all can’t avoid a little college football action in the middle of the week. . .  The Bearcats have found a better look in their offense with Hayden Moore at quarterback but the competition has been way below average.  The Ohio-Valley Conference was represented by Tenn-Martin and the Bearcats struggled for a half and couldn’t stop the run.  Then they beat the worst team in the Big 10 by 18 points. . .  Meanwhile, Houston has showed off a tough defense in both of their wins, one of those wins was the season opener in which they were in control against Baker Mayfield and that Oklahoma Sooner offense.  In just two games, the Bearcats have three 100 yard rushers (and one 80 yard rusher) and will be able to eat the Bearcats offensive line all day.  History shows that in the last three years the winner of this game has been decided by 7 points or less, but this is a huge year for Houston and they are looking to make examples out of teams that are clearly not in their league.  This game has a lot of the Louisville / Syracuse feeling from last week and we saw what the better team did in that one. . .

The Pick: Houston -9

Western Mich  -3.5 at Illinois

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Year in and year out, Western Michigan has an impressive and very un-noticed team.  Welcome to the glory of the MAC Conference.  Western Michigan comes complete in their passing attack and their ground game. Senior wide receiver Corey Davis is having a nice start to the season snatching seven catches a game and already racking up 220 yards in his two games.  This will prove to be a problem on the Illinois defense as Lovie Smith still hasn’t learned that the Cover-2 base defense just isn’t a good idea anymore.  Watching Illinois, they leave the middle of the field open all day long – this is what helped get Lovie fired as head coach of the Chicago Bears.  The Illini are giving up 440 passing yards a game and expect that trend to continue.

The Pick: Western Michigan -3.5

South Florida Bulls -14.5 at Syracuse Orange

Syracuse was just embarrassed on national television last week (as was predicted here on Beating Vegas) and now they are a double digit home dog.  The Regular-Joes will ride the favorite in this game because of what they saw.  But it’s all about what they don’t see.  South Florida was able to open the season to beat up on Towson and Northern Illinois, while Syracuse had one cup cake opponent and then a monster in Louisville.   Syracuse’s problem isn’t moving the ball, it’s finishing drives and they are going up against a defense that hasn’t been tested yet.  Syracuse has a fast paced offense led by quarterback Erik Dungey, who is flying under the radar now, but is one of the more exciting quarterbacks to watch play.  Syracuse may not win this game, but they definitely won’t get blown out either.  The Bulls may get winded early and have to muscle a win out of this one.

The Pick: Syracuse +14.5

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If You Must: Take Memphis at home -20 against the visiting Kansas Jayhawks.  If this was basketball, Kansas would be  a road favorite by at least 7 or 8, but in the world of football, Kansas has won six road games since 2011 and haven’t really been trending upwards in the last two years.

Four Game Teaser: Saints/Giants Over 40.5;  Cardinals +5.5; Panthers -1.5 and Ohio State +10

 

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Tennessee Titans 2015 Preview

The Tennessee Titans along with the Jacksonville Jaguars made it hard to argue that the worst division in the NFL was AFC South.  There are a lot of changes going on at the defensive side of the ball and there is a lot of youth on the offensive side of the ball to get fans excited – at least before the season starts.

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Last year the Titans used a sixth-round pick on LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger.  Mettenberger looked decent in losses to Pittsburgh and Houston, has the size, arm strength and confidence some like but not the Titans.  The Titans were not blown away by the adequate potential displayed by Mettenberger so they drafted Oregon’s Marcus Mariota with the second-pick of this year’s draft.  Mariota had one of the best college careers ever for a quarterback but we’ve all kind of seen this story before. Timmy Chang (Hawaii) Graham Harrell (Texas Tech), Colt Brennan (Hawaii) and Landry Jones (Oklahoma) – to name a few – are in that same class as Mariota.  Mariota came out of a high powered offense in which a lot of his passing yards came after the catch.  There will be a lot of growing pains with Mariota, and a lot of people are in his corner because of his character – but if there is no patience within the Titans organization, this could all blow up in their face.

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Patience is something the Titans may be growing weary with when it comes to their receivers Justin Hunter and Kendall Wright.  In 2013 Wright had 94 receptions with over 1000 yards receiving and saw those numbers drop down to 57 and 715 respectively.   Wright played two less games last season, but even then the struggles would’ve continued because of a lack of a number two threat.  Justin Hunter has been disappointing in his first two years out of Tennessee and hasn’t been able to take pressure off of Wright, who he himself seems to fade away in big spots.  Both receivers will be challenged by rookie Dorial Green-Beckham.  Beckham was drafted in the second-round of this year’s draft by the Titans, while many other teams did not even have him on their draft boards.  Green-Beckham is a fantastic talent, with ridiculous size (6’6″, 237) but his multiple marijuana related arrests and an incident which involved him apparently shoving a woman down a flight of stairs – scared many people off.  In today’s league, where receivers like Justin Blackmon and Josh Gordon, have faced year long suspensions due to ill-decisions off of the field – the Titans are taking a huge gamble on the rookie wide out.  On talent alone, he’s the best wide receiver on this team, and he could have a bright future but only time will tell.   Harry Douglas was a low-key off-season acquisition who provides good depth.  Douglas has always been a great route runner, and when he was called on to be the number one receiver in Atlanta (due to injuries on the roster) he filled in admirably.   Hakeem Nicks was added to the receiver depth chart, but mainly just to fill a roster spot.  Nobody knows what’s happened to Nicks, but he is a shell of himself.

The Titans see a lot of potential in their receiving group and in their running back group.  Although Bishop Sankey struggled in his rookie season averaging only 3.7 yards a carry, the Titans are sticking with their former first-round pick – or at least expect him to be part of a “dynamic duo backfield.”  David Cobb was drafted in the fifth-round out of Minnesota who is a bruiser back that will make things easier for the Titans to depart with Shonn Greene.  The Titans took Alabama fullback a round before Cobb, so there will be an obvious focus on a running attack.

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In front of those backs is an offensive line that the Titans have slowly been putting together nicely.  The last two years they’ve spent first round picks on guard Chance Warmack (2013) and tackle Taylor Lewan (2014).   Andy Levitre plays the guard position opposite of Warmack and should make for running up the gut a normal thing to see, with the previously mentioned rookie fullback and bruiser back taken in this year’s draft.

The Titans biggest acquisition in the off-season was defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau.   LeBeau’s 3-4 attack won’t have much pressure from the group up front so expect to see a lot of blitzing linebackers.   The “usually injured” Brian Orakpo was signed in free-agency and when he’s on the field he can be a difference maker.  Avery Williamson is the Titans’ 23 year old linebacker who looked really good in spots last year and is only expected to improve.  Moving forward, he may be the main cog in this defensive unit.

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The secondary has potential and in a LeBeau scheme, expect the safeties to be very active.   Michael Griffin and Da’Norris Searcy man the safety positions.  Griffin may be asked to man the pseudo-linebacker role with Searcy handling more of the secondary pass help.  Perrish Cox is another name added to the “former 49ers list” – he brings with him ball-hawking skills and the experience of the playing in another blue-collar-like defense.  Jason McCourty is an under-rated number-one corner in the league, who at least has help with him in the secondary this year.

With a lack of a defensive front in this 3-4 defense, the going will certainly get tough for the secondary following around receivers all day.  There is a faith in Dick LeBeau though to cause some kind of chaos with this unit as he does get guys to play hard for him.  Offensively there is a lot of potential but a lot of it rides on Mariota and Green-Beckham.  The two vary in personality but they both travel the same road in proving people wrong.   At least the Titans are in seemingly better shape than the Jaguars. . . seemingly.

Predicted Record: 6-10

Predicted Pro Bowlers: Jason McCourty

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio